When The Golden Rule Doesn't Apply

How to adapt our communication styles to meet others' preferred styles

I wrote a post about feedback last month that sparked some spicy 🌶 discussion on Twitter.

Some folks replied saying they actually dislike tactful, long-winded feedback because it can be too obtuse, and prefer direct, to-the-point feedback.

Great! You’ve done the hard work of identifying your preferred communication style. While it’s important to know your preferred communication style, you can’t assume your default working style applies universally to the other members of your team.

One of the fallacies new managers often make is they assume The Golden Rule applies to all scenarios. They ask themselves, “How would I like to be managed?” or “How would I like to receive feedback?”, and then they communicate using their default style.

Being an effective leader is all about learning to how to influence. To influence, we need to understand how others prefer to be communicated and worked with, and adapt our communication styles to meet others' preferred styles. This enables us to build stronger partnerships and resolve tensions.

My co-founder Anita wrote a great post about DISC recently, check it out and identify your team members’ DISC type.

After you’ve identified if they’re Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, or Compliance then use this cheat sheet in conjunction with The Grand’s Feedback Tool for communicating with them.

Check Out The Grand’s Feedback Method

  • If they’re a D — Keep the Situation and Behavior short and to the point. Get to the Impact ASAP.

  • If they’re an I — Be sure to invite them to brainstorm with you when it comes to the Opportunity.

  • If they’re an S — Provide a full picture when describing the Situation, and make sure to deliver the feedback in a context where the recipient feels psychologically safe.

  • If they’re a C — Share specific details and examples when it comes to the Behavior. When discussing the Opportunity present 2-3 options they can respond to.

I hope this cheat sheet helps you communicate and influence more effectively. If you use it, let me how it goes!